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A submarine maintenance company that was fined by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) could face legal action from an employee injured in an accident at work.
The 19-year-old employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, was working for Thales Underwater Systems at the Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth on April 22nd 2012 when the incident occurred.
He was working on the exterior of a grounded submarine when he slipped on a wet floor. As he put his hands out to attempt to break his fall, his gloved hands were drawn into the rotating bar of a drum roller used to mix and dispense chemicals.
The young worker broke multiple bones in his hand and was hospitalised for three days following emergency treatment that required the insertion of multiple plates to realign his bones.
An investigation launched by HSE subsequently found that the metal guard had been removed from the machine that the man's hand fell into - a regular practice at the firm, used to allow the drum to be rolled with a valve already inserted.
Investigators concluded Thales Underwater Systems did not conduct any risk assessments in relation to the operation of the machine.
Additionally, the company failed to restrict access to dangerous parts of machinery by routinely allowing workers to remove safety guards without being disciplined.
A judge at Plymouth Crown Court fined Thales Underwater Systems £50,000 and ordered the firm to pay £15,236 in legal costs after it pleaded guilty to multiple health and safety regulation breaches.
HSE inspector Georgina Speake said: "Thales Underwater Systems clearly failed to ensure the safety of its employees, with painful consequences for the injured worker.
"The law clearly states that employers should take all reasonably practicable steps to protect employees from harm arising from their work. In the case of machinery, moving parts that could cause injury should be guarded or made safe so that people cannot come into contact with them."
Posted by Francesca Witney
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